Israel hesitates to offer interim peace plan

March 8, 2011 - 0:0

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may move up a trip to the United States and present an interim peace plan to head off growing pressure on the Zionist regime, Israeli radio reported Monday.

Citing sources close to the prime minister, the radio said Netanyahu had been expected to present the plan during a May 22 visit to Washington.
During that trip he had been expected to address U.S. pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC and possibly the U.S. Congress.
But, facing increasing international pressure over stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu is now considering moving up his visit and is hoping to secure an official invitation to address Congress with his plan.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday called on Netanyahu to “take a bold decision” as soon as possible “to move Israel out of its isolation.”
“Such a decision must be taken in the coming weeks, not the coming months. A declaration before the Congress in May would be far too late,” Barak told public radio.
“The world will not accept that we continue to rule over another people after 43 years,” Barak added, in reference to Israel's occupation of land it captured in 1967.
No official announcement about a new Israeli peace proposal has been made yet, but Israeli media have presented details in recent weeks, citing government sources, and describing the plan as an interim deal.
According to media reports, the plan would lay out “temporary borders” and include a limited freeze on building in some settlements, but extensive new construction in east Jerusalem and so-called “settlement blocs” that Israel intends to keep under any final peace agreement.
But the Palestinians have insisted they are not interested in any interim deal or any agreement that does not include permanent resolutions to so-called final status issues, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
Israel has come under increasing pressure in recent months over the stalled peace talks, which ground to a halt shortly after they were relaunched by Washington in September 2010 over the issue of settlement construction.
A limited Israeli moratorium on settlement building expired shortly after the talks began, with Netanyahu refusing to renew the ban and the Palestinians refusing to hold peace talks while Israeli builds on land it wants for a state.
The stalemate and Israel's continued settlement construction has frustrated many in the international community, resulting in near universal support at the Security Council last month for a resolution condemning settlement activity.
The resolution, drafted by the Palestinians, failed only because the United States used its veto, becoming the only country on the 15-member council to vote against the measure.